Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Most commonly seen in large breed dogs, especially the Doberman Pinscher who is believed to have a genetic predisposition to DCM, and usually seen in young adult males (between the ages of four and six years.) DCM is always rapidly fatal in Dobermans.

This condition can be present for a long time with no obvious symptoms. The clinical signs often start suddenly and include typical signs of heart failure, difficulty breathing, a cough, feinting, exercise intolerance, a swollen abdomen, loss of apetite, and weight loss.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is an acquired disease that is characterized by a markedly enlarged and weakened heart muscle. In the Doberman it affects mainly the left ventricle and left atrium.

Dobermans normally manifest one of two common symptoms:
  • The most common symptom is respiratory distress, usually seen as a cough, wheeze, or laboured breathing.
  • The second symptom, sadly, is sudden death. One third of all Dobermans who acquire DCM will experience sudden death.

Unless a specific underlying cause of Dilated Cardiomyopathy can be determined, treatment can only be symptomatic and is the same as those treatments commonly used to treat heart failure.


For further information, see:

Note: This section of Canada's Guide to Dogs is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.